Here is the draft of Wisconsin’s new turkey management plan. There is a lot good turkey information included in this document that all turkey hunters and anyone with an interest in wild turkeys should read. You can click the image to download a PDF of the entire plan.
Ecology of Wild Turkeys in Wisconsin
A Plan for Their Management 2015-2025
For the most part it appears the current spring season scheme will remain in place for the foreseeable future. A majority of active turkey hunters will be very happy about this. However, those who would like to turkey but do not know their schedule and family commitments months in advance will likely continue nonparticipation. These potential turkey hunters are not surveyed about their thoughts. In a time when hunter recruitment has all the buzz these potential hunter’s opinions are left out.
A few glaring problems regarding future turkey management in this draft plan:
- Any change to future season and licensing will require a 70% approval of turkey hunters. How will this be determined? Currently there are no scientific surveys taken. Yes the DNR sends a random survey to licensed turkey hunters each year and they do some online surveys. These are interesting but in no way representative of hunters as a whole, only those who choose to respond. What about considering the opinions of hunting organizations. This is another problem; few hunters are involved in any hunting organization less than 3% of all hunters are members of hunting or conservation groups. Many groups pretend this is not the case but that is for another post.
- There is some discussion about eliminating the fall drawing. If the fall drawing is eliminated these same flawed surveys indicate a majority of hunters support only a 1 bird limit. There are very few fall turkey hunters in Wisconsin the net number is around 26-30,000 statewide per year. There are more permits sold and many of the DNR numbers reflect permits as hunters.
- Oak regeneration for improving turkey habitat. Be careful here. Unlike deer and grouse, turkeys require open mature oak woodlands. Turkeys do not like to hang out in brush or dense new growth. In west central Wisconsin where many “mature” oak woodlands are being clear cut including state owned wildlife management areas, the turkeys have moved out. Many of what were the finest turkey woods in the nation are no more. This strategy of clear cutting mature oaks was done in the Missouri Ozarks during the 1950’s to such an extent turkeys nearly vanished for a generation. Don’t believe me, then ask Ray Eye or any other old Missouri turkey hunter.
The plan as written contains good wild turkey ecology information and is a must read for all Wisconsin turkey hunters. However, it is, perhaps intentionally vague about specific future management strategies. This may be because turkeys in Wisconsin don’t require active management. So long as their habitat is not destroyed. But even then urban / suburban turkeys are doing quite well in many areas.